"Chicago, IL: Remarkable scenes on Soldier Field as Lieutenant T. G. W. Settle, USN, starts his projected flight into the upper regions of the atmosphere and hectic scenes in a nearby railroad yard following the big gas bag's crash due to a leaky valve." (some parts silent of this partial newsreel without narration)
December 21, 2009 Subject:
Response to ATSF1920
The smoke in the latter parts of this film were more likely from steam engines in the railyards just to the west of Soldier's Field. Hydrogen burns very quickly, with almost no visible flame and even the burning remnants of the envelope would not produce that amount of smoke.
Settles was a highly accomplished, Naval Aviator. He was acting as pilot for Jean Piccard for a high altitude balloon from Chicago in 1933. Here is the link to the Wikipedia article about the flight: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_G._W._Settle
If I'm not mistaken, the gondola from that flight is still (or, at least was, when I was a kid) on display at Chicago's "Museum of Science and Industry."
April 30, 2007 Subject:
This appears to be "raw footage" for a newsreel, to which narration would be added later (if the flight had been a success). It is likely that this launch was connected to the 1933 "Century of Progress" World's Fair. This was the height of balloon and airship development, and a trip to the stratosphere was big news. The fire at the end of the clip was probably the balloon's hydrogen gas.